The unabated unrest in Manipur and the partial lifting of ban on internet services in the state has begun to take a toll on e-commerce business and the tourism sector in the state which started to witness speedy progress before the eruption of the present unrest in the state.
In the last few years, e-commerce businesses started to pick up in the state as the internet services started to make inroads in all parts of the state. Several youths in the state turned to e-commerce as livelihood sources and some of them even took up door-to-door home delivery services of essential items available in the local market, which is in a nascent stage in the state.
However, after the outbreak of violence on May 3, the government suspended the internet services for over a month in the state. The ban on mobile data service remains though the state government started lifting the internet service partially with an undertaking with the respective service providers.
Despite the ban on internet service, some entrepreneurs are still exporting local made products by air through cargo service mostly from Indigo flight.
However, the malfunction of an X-Ray scanner of Indigo Cargo, the only cargo service provider at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal, since August 7 is adding to the woes of local entrepreneurs, as goods from the state could not be exported from the state to other parts of the country.
Keithel Express Pvt Ltd director Lenin Kshetrimayum told the Imphal Free Press on August 12 that in a significant setback to essential logistics, the Imphal International Airport's sole cargo service provider, Indigo Cargo, has been facing a paralyzing predicament due to the malfunction of their X-Ray scanner since August 7.
The repercussions of this breakdown have rippled through the region, causing considerable disruption to businesses and highlighting pressing concerns about the state's reliance on a single cargo service provider, he stated.
The failure of the X-Ray scanner has resulted in the suspension of outbound consignments, leaving truckloads of cargo stranded at the airport, he mentioned.
A sense of apprehension prevailed among businesses, with some facing the prospect of substantial losses due to the inability to ship vital consignments, he expressed.
The urgency of the situation is underscored by the impending cancellation of orders worth substantial amounts, leaving businesses in a precarious situation, he stated.
Lenin also said that the attempts to reach Indigo Cargo's customer care, a pivotal avenue for resolution, have been met with frustration as multiple stakeholders encountered difficulties connecting with them.
It remains imperative for service providers to ensure effective communication channels, especially during challenging times when immediate support is crucial, he added.
Lenin further stated that sources close to the facility have confirmed that the X-Ray scanner's breakdown is attributed to a malfunction in the machine's drum roller, requiring the expertise of an external technician. Regrettably, the technician's delayed arrival has prolonged the resolution process, exacerbating the logistical impasse, he mentioned.
The ramifications of this breakdown extended beyond Indigo Cargo's immediate clients, he stated. The scarcity of alternatives in Manipur's cargo service landscape underscores the need for diversified options to prevent such situations from exerting disproportionate impact on regional commerce, he mentioned.
He further stated that in the face of these challenges, concerns emerge regarding the region's dependence on a solitary cargo service provider. Questions arise about the lack of competition and the implications it holds for service quality, responsiveness, and redundancy in times of crisis, he stated.
Moreover, the predicament draws attention to the need for a comprehensive contingency plan that can address similar incidents in the future, he mentioned.
As the situation persists, businesses grapple with the harsh realities of an already beleaguered environment. In a landscape shadowed by political turmoil, internet bans, and curfews, the burden is amplified for businesses dependent on the internet and road transport, Lenin stated. Amidst these hardships, financial commitments such as EMIs, taxes, and compliances compound the woes of an already fragile economic landscape, he added.
Given the gravity of the situation, it is incumbent upon relevant authorities, regulatory bodies, and industry stakeholders to collaborate toward swift and comprehensive resolutions. The recovery of essential logistics is pivotal not only for businesses but also for the economic sustenance and well-being of the populace, he stated.
Ultimately, this predicament serves as a poignant reminder of the need for resilient infrastructure frameworks, diversified service providers, and collaborative efforts to fortify regions against disruptions that could otherwise prove debilitating.
One M Binodkumar also told the Imphal Free Press that the malfunction of the X-Ray machine has become the main issue for the small entrepreneurs while trying to export items from Manipur.
Meanwhile, official sources from Indigo maintained that the authority concerned has been putting efforts to fix the machine. It reported that there are no technicians who can fix the machine. Therefore, the company is to hire a technician from outside the state, the officials said, adding that the company is making efforts to resolve the issue at the earliest.